WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Man described by deputies as ‘prolific burglar’ is jailed, charged

December 7th, 2021 at 11:32 pm Posted in Crime, White Center news | No Comments »

At last week’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting (full report to come), King County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Kennamer noted that burglaries were decreasing, and mentioned a possible reason: The arrest of someone believed responsible for multiple burglaries. While he didn’t identify the suspect, we believe we’ve found him via court documents: 34-year-old Nicholas E. Pierce is in King County Jail, charged in four burglaries, all but one in White Center.

The first one happened at a real-estate office near 17th/98th on June 21st. The business had the break-in on video, from which deputies recognized Pierce, because, the documents say, they “have dealt with Pierce for several years.” They arrested him the next day – but a judge released him from jail one day later. A charge of second-degree burglary was filed in August, but Pierce didn’t show up for arraignment. Jail records show he was arrested November 17th and released again after one day, then arrested days later – November 22nd – and has been behind bars ever since. In the meantime, he’s been charged with three more burglaries. On August 20th, he allegedly broke into the burned-out building in the 9600 block of 16th SW and was caught walking out with toolboxes, the owner trailing him recording video until Pierce allegedly threatened to stab him. Then on October 20th he is accused of breaking into Patrick’s Bakery and Café in White Center, also recorded on video, in which he allegedly used some of the restaurant’s knives to pry open the register, though the report says he got away empty-handed. And he is charged with burglarizing the Burien business where he was caught on November 22nd, Mai’s Hair Salon, whose owner saw the burglary on video and called 911. Deputies found him hiding inside, and their report describes him as a “prolific burglar.”

In each of these four cases, Pierce is charged with second-degree burglary, a felony. His past convictions are mostly for domestic violence. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail, and is scheduled to be arraigned next week.

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Que Chevere on the way to former Taradise Café in White Center

December 6th, 2021 at 8:18 pm Posted in Businesses, Restaurants, White Center news | 6 Comments »

(King County Assessor’s Office photo)

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The former Taradise Café, closed since last June – weeks before its proprietor’s untimely death – has a new tenant. A restaurant/bar called Que Chevere – “it’s awesome” – will open at 9808 16th SW, possibly as soon as next month.

We talked tonight with entrepreneur Felipe Maqueda, who says this will be his first restaurant. And he’s adamant that while it will include a bar, the food will be the focus, not the drinks. He says Que Chevere will serve “Latino fusion” cuisine, and will be open for lunch as well as dinner, with an international menu created by a chef with experience around the world. The atmosphere will be family-friendly, he promises.

Maqueda – who lives on Beacon Hill – wants Que Chevere to be not simply a restaurant, but also a true community asset. He explains that he has a community-advocacy background, including co-founding the Fiestas Patrias celebration at Seattle Center, and running a soccer program that helps players advance in their education. He also works on Sounders FC’s Spanish-language broadcasts.

He also mentioned a love for music, so we asked if he planned live performances at Que Chevere. Maybe, he said, but they would be more on the “cultural” side – folklorico, for example. He can also envision using the site’s big lot for community events like block parties.

But for now, they’re focusing on remodeling, and getting ready to open. “Hopefully we can bring something good to the community.”

(Before Taradise, the future Que Chevere was the site of Marv’s Broiler for almost 40 years.)

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VIDEO: Lighting White Center’s 2021 Christmas tree

December 5th, 2021 at 9:01 pm Posted in Holidays, White Center news | 3 Comments »

That’s the 2021 White Center Christmas tree in all its splendor, in the mini-park outside Mac’s Triangle Pub at Delridge/16th/Roxbury. Mr. and Ms. Claus were there for the occasion:

So were some excited kids:

The actual lighting – before dark – had a few stops and starts, but good cheer all around:

For the icing on the cake, the pub was showing the Seahawks game, and they were on the bring of their 30-23 win over the FortyNiners.

P.S. The tree is sponsored by not only Mac’s but also Center Tool Rental and Meat The Live Butcher.

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Former Highline Bears choose new name: Dub Sea Fish Sticks

December 2nd, 2021 at 10:47 am Posted in Sports, Steve Cox Memorial Park, White Center obituaries | 1 Comment »

10:47 AM: We’re at the Edgewater Hotel on the downtown Seattle waterfront, where the owner of the former Highline Bears has just announced the team’s new name: Dub Sea Fish Sticks. After a process that involved fans proposing more than 200 possible new names, followed by 5,400+ votes between this name and one alternative (Dub Sea Seal Slingers), this morning brought the official unveiling. Owner Justin Moser says they’ll also start calling Mel Olson Stadium at Steve Cox Memorial Park – the team’s home stadium – “The Fryer.” Temporary mascot, as seen above, but another contest will engage people soon in naming the official mascot. The team didn’t play the past two summers because of the pandemic but they’re planning games this year, starting June 4th. The team’s website is now at gofishsticks.com.

ADDED 11:54 AM: Here’s our video of the big reveal:

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SUNDAY: White Center Community Christmas Tree Lighting 2021

December 2nd, 2021 at 12:30 am Posted in Holidays, White Center news | No Comments »

That’s the White Center Christmas Tree in 2019. What will it look like this year? Be the first to see by attending the tree lighting this Sunday (December 5th), 4:20 pm outside Mac’s Triangle Pub (9454 Delridge Way SW).

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SATURDAY: White Center CDA to lead ‘Remembrance Walk’

November 30th, 2021 at 6:43 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center Community Development Association, White Center news | No Comments »

The White Center Community Development Association invites you to show support Saturday for WC’s struggling small businesses. Here’s the announcement:

We are inviting all White Center community members and storefront supporters to this Remembrance Walk Action Against Commercial Displacement on Saturday, December 4th from 3-5 pm starting on 16th Ave SW and SW 98th St.

We will highlight memories of our beloved storefront businesses and stories of resilience and resistance. We are welcoming people to write fond memories they have with the businesses or any supporting thoughts. While you walk, you will be hearing Evergreen High musicians perform pieces that are inspired by this event.

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FOLLOWUP: Here’s what will happen to the Chase Bank White Center building after the branch closes

November 29th, 2021 at 8:53 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | No Comments »

Following up on our report of the Chase Bank White Center closure in February, we asked the company today what’ll become of the building. The regional spokesperson for Chase replied, ““Following the branch closure, the building will be decommissioned and marketed for sale through an outside real-estate brokerage firm.” The half-acre site is zoned for commercial/business use, according to the King County Assessor’s Office website.

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‘Our Community: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow’ at North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting Thursday

November 28th, 2021 at 8:51 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | No Comments »

First Thursdays usually bring the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council‘s monthly meeting, and tonight we know what NHUAC is planning for December 2nd:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When? Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 7 pm
Join Via Zoom:
us02web.zoom.us/j/86882502547?pwd=T1oya2VTVUFsV2FHY0VFWlB0OFcxZz09
Meeting ID: 868 8250 2547
Passcode: NHUAC2021 (case sensitive)

Or Call: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 868 8250 2547
Passcode: 361212590

Please join NHUAC’s last meeting of 2021 on Thursday, December 2nd at 7 pm. 2020 has been a tough year for the North Highline / White Center community. As painful as it has been, trauma is not new to our community. This meeting marks 15 years since Deputy Steve Cox was killed in the line of duty. The next day, the Seattle Times headline read:

Slain deputy had become White Center’s “Superman”

It was not an exaggeration. Deputy Cox grew up playing ball in the park which now bears his name and a memorial in his honor. He learned that knowledge and education are power, so he got a good education, became an attorney, and worked as a prosecutor in Eastern Washington. That didn’t last too long.

Deputy Cox came back to White Center because he wanted to make it a better place for everyone. He joined the Sheriff’s Office and became White Center’s Store Front Deputy. Steve cared about our White Center community and believed in all of us. “Don’t Quit” was his favorite poem. It sums up the way Deputy Cox lived his life and is his lasting message to all of us. Although Steve was a family man with a new baby, he volunteered to help whenever he could. Steve was NHUAC’s president when he died. Those of us who knew him could not help but learn from him. He still leads the way in NHUAC’s efforts to support a heathy community of opportunity that does not back away from its struggles.

With that goal in mind, the focus of this meeting will be: Our Community: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Please join the conversations with State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Marta Olson of King County’s Department of Natural Resources & Parks, and, of course, our Community Deputy Bill Kennamer.

Knowledge is power.

Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.
December 2, 2021 at 7 pm – Invite a Neighbor!

ADDED: Here’s the agenda.

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Chase Bank to close White Center branch next year

November 26th, 2021 at 9:19 pm Posted in Businesses, White Center news | 4 Comments »

(King County Assessor’s Office photo)

The Chase Bank branch at 1616 SW 100th is closing in February. That’s what the bank announced in a letter to customers, including Marcus, who tipped us about it. The letter says the banking giant will be “permanently closing” the branch as of February 10, 2022. The letter suggests customers use ATMs or the Westwood Village branch in West Seattle once this branch closes. Property records show Chase owns the building; we’ll be asking them after the holiday what their plans are for the site. Chase closed a branch in West Seattle almost a year ago, in a Morgan Junction supermarket, but still has three freestanding branches there, as well as a branch in Burien, at 222 SW 150th. Meantime, White Center’s bank options are shriveling – you’ll recall the Bank of America branch on 17th SW closed not that long ago.

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As requested in petition, $2 million for White Center economic recovery included in King County supplemental budget

November 23rd, 2021 at 8:00 pm Posted in King County, White Center Library | 2 Comments »

(WCN photo from September 13th fire)

A month and a half ago, White Center community members launched a petition drive demanding King County do more to address the economic devastation caused by the recent business fires. Among the demands: “$2M emergency relief funding outside of (Department of Local Services) grants to assist fire victims and stabilize the White Center Business District’s rebuilding efforts in collaboration with community.” $2 million in help is on the way after a King County Council supplemental-budget vote today that included approval of the proposal by County Councilmember Joe McDermott. Here’s his post-vote announcement:

Following passage of a $672 million supplemental budget Tuesday, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott applauded the inclusion of $2 million for economic recovery in White Center following a string of fires and burglaries there. McDermott brough the funding as an amendment to the budget legislation.

“This investment in economic recovery will have a tangible impact on how the County can support the White Center community in the year ahead,” McDermott said. “From the pandemic to long-standing challenges for legacy businesses, this economic emergency brought on by the fires this year only heightened the need to ensure White Center can maintain an equitable, thriving community in the years ahead. I greatly appreciate my colleagues’ support for this community that, while struggling now, has incredible potential.”

The budget also included $175,000 for King County Sheriff’s Office overtime to help increase patrols in the area and funding for a new economic development staffer dedicated to the White Center community.

Multiple property fires this year damaged beloved businesses in White Center like the Locker Room Bar and Grill, Huong Xua Deli and others while subsequent window smashings and burglaries put the community on edge.

Local business owners submitted a petition to county officials, seeking direct aid to fire victims, funding for additional security in the community, a more transparent relationship with the King County Sheriff’s Office and local fire departments, and staffing for one-on-one support for local businesses not only for recovery but going forward to help avoid displacement in the area.

The $2 million in funding will be directed by the Department of Local Services to additional business grants and other economic recovery strategies to be developed in conversation and collaboration with the community.

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FOLLOWUP: Patti Cole-Tindall announced as interim King County Sheriff as of January 1

November 23rd, 2021 at 11:13 am Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news | 1 Comment »

We noted yesterday that an interim King County Sheriff would be announced today, taking over after the term of elected Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht concludes at year’s end. Here’s the announcement, just in:

Executive Dow Constantine has appointed Patti Cole-Tindall to serve as Interim King County Sheriff while the County conducts a nationwide recruitment process for a new Sheriff to be appointed in mid-2022. Cole-Tindall will be the first person of color to serve as Sheriff in King County’s history. Executive Constantine also announced a new retention and recruitment bonus program for Sheriff’s officers.

Following the passage of a Charter Amendment in November 2020, the King County Sheriff’s Office is transitioning to an appointed, rather than elected, Sheriff. The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) has developed recommendations for the characteristics of the next Sheriff, focusing on a strong background in law enforcement, community leadership, and community partnerships; a reputation for integrity, honesty, and transparency; the ability to inspire and motivate change; and a commitment to equity, racial and social justice, and LGBTQ+ issues.

“Patti’s background and experience in the Sheriff’s Office and across County government – working with labor, serving her community, and demonstrating integrity and transparency – make her uniquely qualified to step into this interim role. She embodies the key qualities we’re looking for as we begin to rethink community safety, hire the next generation of officers and search for a newly appointed Sheriff,” said Executive Constantine. “I am confident she will ensure a smooth transition and provide strong leadership for Sheriff’s Office employees and the public.”

Cole-Tindall has a background in law enforcement, labor relations, human resources as well as service to the community. She joined the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) in October 2015, serving as the Chief of Technical Services Division for almost five years before being appointed to Undersheriff, where she is responsible for day-to-day operations with the team of three Division Chiefs. She currently oversees the development and implementation of the KCSO strategic plan and the examination and strengthening of the KCSO complaint and use of force review processes.

Prior to that, Cole-Tindall served as the County’s Director of Labor Relations, advising Executive Constantine and the County Council on strategic planning, labor policy, and employment law. She concurrently served as the interim director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, working with staff, the Sheriff’s Office, and the public to improve services and promote awareness of the role of civilian oversight in King County.

“I am honored to serve as the Interim Sheriff, and will be working closely with my management teams to support and lead the people of the KCSO until the new Sheriff is appointed,” said Cole-Tindall. “During this transition, my mission is clear: support our workforce, ensure a smooth transition, and listen to the communities we serve as we reimagine law enforcement in King County.”

Additionally, today’s appointment included the announcement of a proposal to be transmitted to the King County Council to, subject to ratification by the respective unions, appropriate funds for recruitment and retention bonuses for existing and new Sheriff Officers:

• A one-time $4,000 retention bonus to all commissioned Sheriff’s Office employees employed on Jan. 1, 2022
• A hiring bonus of $15,000 for lateral hires of Sheriff’s Deputies
• A hiring bonus of $7,500 for new Sheriff’s Deputies
• A $5,000 referral bonus for current Sheriff’s Office employees who refer successful candidates who are hired as Sheriff’s Deputies.

Last week, Executive Constantine announced the start of a nationwide search for King County’s next Sheriff. The recruitment process has worked to incorporate community identified priorities and qualifications for the next appointed Sheriff, using recommendations from PSAC and will include opportunities for input from community representatives, employees, and labor representatives. Cole-Tindall’s first day as Interim Sheriff will by January 1, and she will serve until the conclusion of recruitment in the summer of 2022 at which time a new Sheriff will be appointed.

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PUBLIC SAFETY: Interim sheriff to be announced Tuesday; ‘reimagining’ survey open now

November 22nd, 2021 at 3:53 pm Posted in White Center news | No Comments »

Two notes from King County regarding public safety:

INTERIM SHERIFF: At year’s end, the term of King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht ends, and since voters approved changing the job from elected to appointed, it’ll be up to County Executive Dow Constantine to decide who takes over. His office says he will announce an “interim sheriff” tomorrow – someone who will start in January, with a permanent appointment expected at midyear.

‘REIMAGINING PUBLIC SAFETY’: A survey is open for people in urban unincorporated areas including North Highline – from the announcement:

King County is seeking ideas from residents of urban unincorporated areas of the county on how government can think differently about public safety. The survey—available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali—asks about residents’ experiences with 911 and emergency response. The survey will be open through Dec. 31.

The Reimagining Public Safety initiative stems from King County’s 2020 declaration that racism is a public health crisis. Executive Constantine committed to investing in community wellness to combat the impacts of racism that have long been experienced by low income and BIPOC communities.

Go here to take the survey.

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SUBAREA PLAN: King County extends comment deadline again

November 19th, 2021 at 8:10 pm Posted in King County, White Center news | No Comments »

King County really wants to make sure you have time to say something about the North Highline Subarea Plan. The latest announcement is that it’s extending the deadline for comments again:

The comment period for the North Highline Subarea Plan Public Review Draft and Land Use & Zoning Map Amendments has been extended from Sunday Nov. 28 through Sunday Dec. 19*.

There’s still time to share your thoughts on the plan that will guide growth and development in North Highline for the next 20 years. There are several ways to share your comments, including by completing a survey HERE.

Or you can:

Email to subareaplanning@kingcounty.gov. Please make sure that the subject line contains “North Highline.”
US Mail: Jacqueline Reid King County Permitting Division 35030 SE Douglas Street, Suite 210 Snoqualmie, WA 98065-9266
Phone/voicemail: 206-263-3000
The following resource, translated into several languages, has been added to the North Highline Subarea Plan website:

North Highline Subarea Plan Public Review Draft Reader’s Guide which also includes an explanation of key technical terms.

To see visuals that show examples of different forms of development referenced in project documents, go to this link:

A Residential and Commercial Development Examples Slide Deck

This slide deck, and other project information, can be accessed from the interactive project webpage at https://www.publicinput.com/northhighline

Also, be sure to check out the Draft Inclusionary Housing Proposed Ordinance that promotes affordable housing in new developments. Learn more at https://kingcounty.gov/legislation-review. The comment period for providing input on the draft ordinance has also been extended through Sunday Dec. 19*

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Million diapers for WestSide Baby – but that’s just a start

November 17th, 2021 at 11:30 pm Posted in WestSide Baby, White Center news | No Comments »

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

What a relief! WestSide Baby has welcomed shipments totaling 1 million diapers this past week, partly thanks to pandemic relief – with $225,000 received from the City of Seattle’s Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Diaper Distribution program. We were at the nonprofit’s White Center hub this morning as the final installment arrived. Yet as impressive as a million diapers sounds, the need is even greater.

Last year alone, WestSide Baby provided families with a record-high number of diapers – 2.4 million. Executive director Sarah Cody Roth notes, “In King County, 23% of families could not afford enough diapers and the devastating economic impacts of COVID have only widened that gap.” The nonprofit has strong community support, but the city contribution has made a huge difference. West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who chairs the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, calls WS Baby “a regional treasure … helping low-income families survive through the pandemic.” Also invaluably helpful, WestSide Baby says, was its WC neighbor La Mexicana, which temporarily donated warehouse space to help store all those diapers. Now they’re racing to distribute them quickly!

(WestSide Baby photo)

That photo’s from a delivery in West Seattle’s High Point neighborhood. “We have never done anything this big before – we are coordinating the distribution of 700,000 diapers over the next 4 weeks, one of the quickest and largest distributions we have ever done, all in response to emergency need this winter,” said Will Owen, WS Baby’s donation and logistics manager.

Here’s how you can help: Support WS Baby’s holiday-season JOY campaign – have a diaper drive, donate to one, and/or donate money so the purchases – and distributions! – can continue. Follow the link to see what else is on their most-needed list – such as winter coats, warm hats and gloves, and baby hygiene items.

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WEDNESDAY: King County Law Library invites you to learn about estate planning

November 16th, 2021 at 8:30 pm Posted in Libraries, Online, White Center news | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY: King County Law Library invites you to learn about estate planning

The King County Law Library invites you to this online event tomorrow:

RESEARCH THE LAW SERIES: ESTATE PLANNING
November 17 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm\
FREE WEBINAR WITH REGISTRATION
kcll.org/event/research-the-law-series-estate-planning/

Our “Research the Law” series takes a deep dive into legal research resources on a topic-by-topic basis. In this installment, we partner with attorney Evelyn Emanuel to explore resources that you can use when planning for your estate.

If you have financial assets or obligations and care about what happens to them when you’re gone, it’s a good idea to have a plan in the event that you die or become incapacitated unexpectedly. In this hour-long session, KCLL librarians and attorney Evelyn Emanuel will guide you through a number of helpful resources. This session is especially geared for those looking to start estate planning for the first time.

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GIVING: Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club’s gift to WestSide Baby

November 14th, 2021 at 2:04 am Posted in WestSide Baby, White Center news | 1 Comment »

Special delivery for White Center-headquartered WestSide Baby!

The Jolly Rogers Motorcycle Club‘s Halloween party at the White Center Eagles’ HQ resulted in diapers and dollars for WestSide Baby’s work helping thousands of local families.

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ALMOST OPEN: Lariat Bar

November 11th, 2021 at 5:30 pm Posted in Beverages, Businesses, White Center news | Comments Off on ALMOST OPEN: Lariat Bar

Another new White Center establishment is about to open – Lariat Bar at 9829 16th SW says it’s opening this Saturday (November 13th). Its theme: Pro wrestling.

P.S. They open at 4 pm Saturday.

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What’s YOUR story? Here’s where to tell it

November 10th, 2021 at 11:14 pm Posted in Burien, history, White Center news | Comments Off on What’s YOUR story? Here’s where to tell it

A museum in Burien is inviting you to tell your story! Here’s the announcement:

Everybody has a story to tell.

South King County residents now have an outlet to share their unique stories with their community.

Their outlet is “7 Stories,” a monthly night of storytelling at the Highline Heritage Museum, 819 SW 152nd St., in Burien.

The concept is simple: Seven storytellers tell seven different stories in seven minutes each. Each evening has an overall theme, loosely interpreted.

The programs are introduced by the hosts for the evening who share a biography of each storyteller

From crass to delicate, told by wallflowers or clowns, these real stories are mesmerizing, raw, powerful or humorous. Don’t think fables, ghost or children’s stories. This is not a theatrical performance but true stories from friends, acquaintances or a community member you have never met. Storytellers are encouraged to use the language they feel most comfortable with. Stories are memorized and told from the heart. The event is livestreamed and later put on YouTube.

Storytellers are picked in advance. To apply, go to http://burienculturehub.com/7stories.

The mission of 7 Stories is to build community, strengthen our understanding and appreciation of our rich diversity and celebrate it, through the telling of our stories.

Organizers are seeking storytellers for the next event on Friday, November 19. The theme is “Plan B.”

We all had to have a plan B during Covid! Or maybe we didn’t. Or maybe our plan B was only developed when Plan A went sideways. Maybe on that vacation you wished you had a Plan B. You get the idea.

Upcoming themes include, “If Only I’d Listened,” December 17; “How Did I Get Here,” January 28; “My First Crush,” February 25 and “When I was a Kid,” March 25.

The concept for 7 Stories was imported down by Sybil Davis, who moved from Juneau to Burien in 2010. In Juneau, Sybil attended similar events, where they were called “Mudrooms,” to evoke people swapping stories on their front stoops.

Sybil felt the South King County and West Seattle area was ripe for a community building program that explores and shares the stories of its residents.

The Highline Heritage Museum, Burien Arts Association and Burien Culture Hub enthusiastically signed on as sponsors.

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YOU CAN HELP: Holiday drive for local families starts today

November 10th, 2021 at 1:10 am Posted in Holidays, How to Help, White Center news | Comments Off on YOU CAN HELP: Holiday drive for local families starts today

Your local firefighters want to bring holiday joy to 25 families around their coverage area again this year. All they need is some help from you – starting today:

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North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on fire safety, Subarea Plan @ November meeting

November 7th, 2021 at 9:46 pm Posted in North Highline UAC, White Center news | Comments Off on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council focuses on fire safety, Subarea Plan @ November meeting

From Thursday night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council:

WHITE CENTER FIRES/SAFETY: Guests were King County permitting-division director Jim Chan, fire/building marshal Chris Ricketts, Fire Chief Mike Marrs, and Sheriff’s Office community crime-prevention Deputy Bill Kennamer. Marrs noted that six “large-loss” fires happened in the area in a relatively short time, but no, that doesn’t mean a firebug is on the loose – only one of the six fires (the July 5th fire that started in the Lumber Yard) was a “criminal act of arson.” The others were the result of “reckless” acts but not criminal. The Locker Room fires were both believed to be “discarded smoking material … in the front planter box,” while the Atlas Electric building fires were believed to have been started by trespassers. NHUAC’s Liz Giba wondered, do any of the businesses involved or nearby have fire alarms? Reply: Not that anyone present was aware – “they’re (the buildings) pretty old.” Marrs recalled some deadly fires in other parts of the country – “older buildings quite often have a higher fatality rate,” though so far no lives have been lost here. Giba asked, “Is there any talk about making the buildings in White Center safer?” Ricketts noted that laws often change after a catastrophe somewhere; he noted White Center’s former Club Evo, which was under orders to upgrade and add sprinklers, but ran into a problem connecting to water supply. To her question, it was noted that “we can only hold people accountable to (upgrading to) the code when there’s a change to the structure.” These upgrade systems are “extremely expensive.” Maybe some lower-cost actions – like an alarm – would make a building safer, though not as safe as newer buildings.

Participants wondered about certain kinds of grants or government funding to pay for safety upgrades; not as available as you might hope, said Local Services director John Taylor, though he mentioned the “participatory budgeting” $3 million. He also said Road Services is looking at a potential redesign for 16th SW, and another longer-term effort to look at “building back” in the WC core. Meantime, Marrs said a fire-safety mailer is going out to downtown businesses soon, Are there regular inspections? Short answer, no, as the Fire District doesn’t have a dedicated inspector. All they’re doing is “tactical surveys” so they know what they’d have to do if there’s a fire, Marrs said. Chan recalled an annual-inspection program in the past “but we prioritized the larger structures” – schools, multi-family residential buildings, for example. But they’ve since had to “re-focus” funding on other things, like permit work. Taylor agreed to take a look at what can be done. Ella Williams from County Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s office said they’re looking at ways to help, including through the budget process. Regarding trespassing by unhoused people seeking shelter, Deputy Kennamer said that with LEAD‘s help, many people have gotten housing – but not everyone will accept services, and they’re worried about people breaking into the burned-out building on 16th.

Moving to the topic of help for fire-affected businesses, Taylor noted that a dozen businesses have received $108,000 total do far, and recapped the recent federal disaster declaration making July 5th fire victims eligible for low-interest loans, Giba asked how long the burned-out buildings can stand. It’s up to the businesses and property owner(s), Taylor said; Chan said that if it’s secured and not a safety hazard, “it can stay for a while.” They keep watch on health/safety concerns such as rodents. Deputy Kennamer said he’s been contacted by the building’s owner three times already to clear people out (they were gone before deputies arrived). “We do not have the right to order a property owner to redevelop, or sell,” Chan noted. All the affected businesses are currently going through the insurance-claims process right now, Taylor added. He also said that the county plans to waive the permit fees for rebuilding.

OTHER AREAS OF CONCERN: Asked about other areas of concern, Deputy Kennamer said the Empire Hookah Lounge in Top Hat has been linked to more than a dozen crimes of violence – including four shootings – and 69 other “calls for service.” He would like to see it get a fire inspection because it draws big crowds. It’s been cited for code violations already, Ricketts said. Erick Thomas from the Liquor and Cannabis Board said if they don’t comply, their license could be in jeopardy. … Kennamer also mentioned a Beverly Park house that’s been a hub of criminal activity – recently in one day alone, three stolen cars were recovered. One of the tenants now has an eviction notice because of the criminal activity.

NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN: Jacqueline Reid was there with a reminder that the plan draft is up for public review through November 28th. As point person for the plan, she replaced David Goodman, who moved on to another job. Here’s the timeline for the plan:

The draft is two parts – both a written document and a package of map amendments:

Here’s how to comment:

Part of the proposal is for upzoning to higher density.

How would the resulting loss of yards and trees be dealt with? asked Giba. There are some landscaping requirements, said Reid. NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin said that’s a surprise to hear because she’s seen many smaller homes built recently “with absolutely no landscaping.” Chan noted that the intent was to pack in the density where there is urban infrastructure. “But we don’t have that infrastructure,” protested Dobkin. Sidewalks are missing, drainage is poor, there’s no way for kids to walk safely to parks. Taylor said that should all be on the “community needs list.” When Reid continued with her presentation, she mentioned that development height between Roxbury and 100th would be limited to 40 feet to keep within scale. She also called attention to the Draft Inclusionary Housing Program, which sounds a lot like the HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability program in Seattle, an incentive for affordable housing, either developed outright or supported by developer fees. Giba urged everyone to take the time to review the draft and comment – in hopes that’ll lead to a healthy White Center in the decades ahead.

CRIME TRENDS: Deputy Kennamer said auto theft is up, probably related to the aforementioned house, but the real story is commercial burglaries, which “really spiked last month” – 19. They’re looking for a suspect who they think is linked to most of them. Firearms calls were up. Dobkin mentioned a huge trash pileup outside the house where Seattle Police shot and killed a man earlier this year, in the 10000 block of 21st SW; Kennamer and Taylor promised to see what could be done.

NEXT MEETING: Thursday, December 2nd, 7 pm online.

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